My son is almost five. I love and adore him with every cell of my being. I’ve learned a colourful variety of lessons and tricks along the way – though hardly ever stopping to read the innumerable books and websites with such conflicting theories or listen to advice from other mothers without a handful of salt. Indeed, the only advice I have followed faithfully is to cherish every single moment, because children keep growing every day, sometimes even sprouting as they sleep like watermelons on a hot summer night. As we grow along with them. The rest of my strategy (I use that word with a hint of self-deprecating sarcasm) has come from obeying my own inner wisdom, and particularly my intuition. From trying to recall what I have observed about parents and children throughout my life – what has felt right, or wrong – and of course from my own personal experience of growing up. What did all that make me? Devoted, focused, sometimes faulty, sometimes a resourceful genius, always loving and always imperfect. But definitely not empowered.
When I stepped into the room that I would be spending two days in to follow the Empowered Parenting workshop by Leadership Coaching in Athens, a successful company founded by Konstantina Kanaroglou, it wasn’t without a tiny sense of apprehension. Over the years, I have attended a multitude of seminars and workshops mainly related to healing and wellness, and although I know how life-changing and rewarding they can be, I was also well aware of how thornily challenging they can be too.
There you suddenly are, in a circle of strangers, each attending for their own reasons, (only soon to discover that their reasons are shared by so many others in the group), and you’re going to have to address your issues. It can be a demanding process, and the more open, full-spirited, vulnerable, honest and passionate you will allow yourself to be, the more powerful the results will prove. However, no one ever said that facing your real or imagined weaknesses, errors and habits is easy. As I mentioned I was drawn to attending because I wanted to discover how to become an empowered parent, even if the concept felt somewhat elusive at the time.
That’s where the incredible facilitators our group was blessed with having came in – both highly experienced and worldly coaches certified by the ICT, Anne Eggen-Johansen and Karen Makkes van der Deijl expertly found ways to almost immediately quell my own – and the others’ sense of awkwardness and anxiety. Their speech, body language, beaming smiles and deeply observant eyes and ears were in no way formulaic, although one can only assume that with so many years on the field internationally both certainly adapt their own coaching techniques. Still they expressed an authentic humaneness, wisdom, knowledge and humour that evaporated the group’s sense of disconnection from one another via a series of exercises and discourses, that bound us deeper and deeper with one another’s concerns.
Particularly as we started almost immediately to learn practical skills like Listening and posing Powerful Questions, to explore the deep facets of an Emotionally Intelligent approach and all in the co-active sphere of developing a holistic outlook and approach, self-empowerment grew in me without my even realizing it. The two days of the workshop we were hosted at the Kastri Domotel, a beautiful, brightly lit, huge and maize-like classic building with sprawling verdant grounds, from 9am-5:30pm. We had enough breaks to sip some coffee and chat with others or retreat into our own thoughts to process what we’d been experiencing, and each time we returned to the room I felt enthusiastically prepared to move onto the next step, and the next, of this new journey. Each time we returned to the room the entire group’s energy had shifted; we were all changing through this process; we were all supportive of our self as a parent in a new way, and consequently – inevitably even – of the other parents too.
By waking up to new awareness of something I had already been living for almost five years as a mother and seeing the experience, its qualities, outlets, processes, challenges and gifts in new ways, I felt nothing less than empowered. Empowerment does not mean I am suddenly a Superhero Parent with incredible abilities – it means that I can now cope a little better, in a more creative, upbeat, tranquil, confident, resourceful and assertive manner, with things that would in the past have left me feeling lost at sea. I can laugh at myself more easily or shrug when things are not going as I ideally would have wanted them to, and next I can employ the techniques I learned to bring forth new solutions and refreshing ways of handling things. Both for myself as an individual, a woman with all her dreams, desires, needs and wants, and as a mother, with all her wishes, hard work, prayers and constant focus on learning, by being more empowered I now feel more compassionate, conscious and capable at once.
By the end of the workshop it was like saying goodbye to a group of old friends, and as it happens with the best of group workshops, with the heartening reminder that despite how different we are from one another, we are also all reflections of each other, and are all one. We promised to stay in touch and keep on supporting each other, and each took home our Course Material booklet packed with valuable advice and information and a Certificate.
The buzz around the lunch table on both days was that this course should definitely be also taught at schools for both teachers and kids, and I couldn’t agree more. If only everyone related to the process of being or rearing a child could receive such meaningful guidance, the world would definitely be a better, more functional and yes, definitely more empowering place.
Photo Credits: Jannoon028 / Freepik